A curious explorer, an accomplished photographer, a political junkie, a technology geek, an inventor, a theoretical mathematician, and a great cook: Gurhan’s varied life provides the backdrop against which he designs, and each new experience fuels inspiration for new creations. It was more than 20 years ago that Gurhan first experienced the beauty of 24kt gold.
Captivated by its depth and warmth, the designer was inspired to build an entire brand around this precious metal. Today he’s known for pioneering the revival of precious metal and re-introducing it to the world of modern jewellery. With a hand-hammered finish and unique patina, his collections are instantly recognisable.
Devoted to the integrity of his design, Gurhan continues to oversee the company’s workshop in Istanbul where artisans are chosen and trained by Gurhan himself. With this passion and dedication, Gurhan often refers to his handcrafted jewellery as 'heartmade'. It is this intimate connection with his craft and unwavering commitment to quality that has made GURHAN an internationally recognised brand.
How did GURHAN start?
“My interests have always been varied and in my early career, technology, music and travel dominated. I travelled the world and considered myself a global citizen. One of my very first jobs was picking strawberries in England – so clearly, I didn’t follow what one might consider a traditional career path! It was only when I saw a sheet of 24kt pure gold that I became determined to work with jewellery and build an entire brand around this precious metal. Although people tried to discourage me, I dared to challenge the rules of conventional design and developed highly effective methods for working with 24kt; a metal that had always been considered too soft, heavy and expensive. This critical step helped launch the GURHAN collection and create the look for which we are well known. In fact, today many people credit GURHAN with pioneering the reintroduction of 24kt gold into the world of modern fine jewellery and reshaping the way people think about jewellery.”
"I dared to challenge the rules of conventional design and developed highly effective methods for working with 24kt; a metal that had always been considered too soft, heavy and expensive."
What makes your jewellery unique?
“In an era of mass production, GURHAN is an exception. Our jewellery is handcrafted in the company’s own factory workshop, where each artisan is chosen and trained specifically in our specialised techniques. We often refer to our jewellery as “heartmade”; a term that reflects the passion and dedication our metalsmiths bring to every creation. Many of our techniques - such as hand-hammering - have been derived from ancient goldsmiths and now create the unique signature look of our designs. In fact, look closely at the patina or “fingerprints” on the surface of our designs- a single square inch of gold could contain as many as 1000 hammer strokes! It is this special blend of ancient techniques with our modern aesthetic that creates a unique DNA.”
Where do you find inspiration for your designs?
“I’ve always been fascinated by the designs and techniques that were developed by ancient craftsmen hundreds, even thousands of years ago. Using little more than their own ingenuity and creativity, these artisans created a lasting beauty that is the driving force behind many of my designs. There is an intrinsic value in something that has been made in someone’s hands, with skill, craftsmanship and passion. This rich sense of history and culture provides the inspiration for GURHAN designs that are relevant to today’s modern consumer.”
"There is an intrinsic value in something that has been made in someone’s hands, with skill, craftsmanship and passion."
Aside from jewellery, what are you most passionate about?
“In a word, it would have to be discovery. My wife Fiona (who is also the company President and CEO) and I are avid travellers. We are passionate about exploring remote destinations, where we can connect with ancient cultures through the artefacts they leave behind. Holding something that was made by an artisan hundreds or even thousands of years ago is like holding something electric! It is this history and connection to something meaningful that bridges the modern world with the past and ignites our curiosity and interest.
One of our recent trips was to the far north-western corner of Australia known as the Kimberlies. We were awed by the staggering beauty of the landscape, the vastness of the rugged terrain, and what can only be described as the raw power of nature. While the scarcity of cell service and WIFI took some getting used to at first, this freedom allowed my imagination to fill and flow with ideas and designs. Many an evening I found myself alone with my journal, filling the pages with notes, thoughts and sketches… sometimes unaware that hours had passed!”